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Plate 211: Buddy, Bob, and Joe









"Visual/Language is not only a superlative production of bookmaking but uniquely so. It can't be compared to any other book that I know. The author's artistic caricatures and commentaries are truly great, but the design of the book and the materials used to fulfill it surpass even the contents in aesthetic imagination. You have produced a masterpiece."
—Anders Richter, former Director of the Smithsonian Institution Press

"Like William Hogarth or Bill Mauldin, Dwayne Wilcox depicts personal experience in ways that broaden and reshape our understanding of the world we share. That Dwayne is Lakota means everything and nothing. Funny, poignant, or pointed, his ledger drawings invite us to enter his life and consider the challenges, appreciate the humor, and respect the enduring presence of Lakota people in twenty-first century America." —George Miles, William Robertson Coe Curator of the Yale Collection of Western Americana, Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University

"Dwayne Wilcox's ledger drawings are compelling, beautifully executed, and laugh-out-loud humorous in the way they poke fun at both white and Native cultures. Beneath the initial layer of an amusing story, however, is a complex world drawn from personal experience and his Lakota culture's deep history. In Visual/Language, Wilcox provides a resolved, well-rounded narrative that has much to say about life in today's Native world."
—Stephen Glueckert, Senior Curator Emeritus, Missoula Art Museum

"Dwayne Wilcox's Visual/Language has a level of respect for his subjects: his own Lakota people. He works tirelessly to be true to the challenges of reservation life while supporting cultural traditions, defending a way of life yet being honest throughout with the reality that none of us are perfect. We are all struggling along life's journey. The drawing style Dwayne uses intentionally removes individuality. At the same time his captions point out social significance while his personal narrative offers an unfolding life story, acknowledging his own vulnerability. At each step, Dwayne balances the desire to be honest and respectful of us all, both Native and non-Native, forgiving our flaws, if he even sees them as flaws rather than the reality of us all trying to learn the lessons needed on our journey. He does so pointedly, calling out actions yet without any individual being blamed. Dwayne's skillful use of direct Lakota humor—cutting-edge, burst-out-loud-laughing humor—is filled with compassion for the Lakota people and all First Nation's people in their struggle to hold onto cultural beliefs amidst a dominating society surrounding them and attempting to stifle their ways relentlessly for hundreds of years now at every turn.

"Dwayne's use of the Lakota tradition of ledger art to tell his stories could not be more fitting. The ledger art tradition itself grew from the early days of Indian reservations being used to control his Native people. As the white people overseeing the reservation's allotment of goods filled their ledger books, they cast them aside to the Native artists, the visual storytellers, who sadly had been allocated to live a restricted lifestyle in their own land where they then had no access to the more traditional animal hides to paint their visual narratives on. Earlier the hides were gathered from the tribe's hunting and gathering harvest. As with all aspects of life, the animals hunted were used with every portion having a purpose, with nothing being cast aside in waste. This was done always in respect, honor, and gratitude for all life and the sacrifices made from one life form to another in contribution to the sacred circle of existence.

"Dwayne's masterful storytelling and humility are a generous offering to all. Any reader will have the opportunity to be reminded of the value of all living things within this work while laughing hard and at times crying equally as hard. I am grateful to have been introduced to Dwayne and his work many years ago. Through it he has continually reminded me of what around us is truly worthy of valuing. This book and the work within it should be shared with people from all walks of life."
—John Willis, author of Views from the Reservation: A New Edition and Mni Wiconi / Water Is Life: Honoring the Water Protectors at Standing Rock and Everywhere in the Ongoing Struggle for Indigenous Sovereignty


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